It may be cliché, but amazing things really do come in small packages. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, for example, is a mere 4’9″ and the powerful MacBook Air weighs just 2.96 pounds! Chia seeds—which are about as big as a freckle—are another small-but-fierce source of amazingness.
For starters, they’re loaded with essential nutrients like omega-3s, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Chia also packs an impressive three grams of protein and five grams of hunger-crushing fiber per tablespoon.
And since the seed forms a gel when mixed with water (they can hold up to 10 times their weight in liquid), they digest slowly, making them a powerful force against the munchies—which is great news for those looking to control portions and cravings.
With that in mind, it seems like we should all make an effort to make our meals a bit more satiating with the help of the almighty chia seed! From chia pudding to chia-infused nut butter and everything in between, here are 23 great ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.
Pour Some Into Your Detox Water
For some extra nutrition, spoon some chia seeds into your favorite detox water. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit sweet—but still healthy—create a concoction called chia fresca by combining 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice, and 2 teaspoons of honey. Let the seeds soak overnight before slurping it all down.
Sprinkle Onto Sweet Potatoes
Olive oil and spices are commonly used to amp up the taste of baked sweet potatoes. Almond butter, bananas, and chia seeds? Not so much. But Monique of Ambitious Kitchen loves this off-the-beaten-track combination on her orange spuds. Snag her breakfast recipe to find out how to pull together her signature morning meal.
Add to Sliced Fruit with Nut Butter
We love to smear nut butter onto slices of apples and bananas because it makes for the perfect filling snack. Take yours to the next level by sprinkling some crunchy chia seeds on top of the spread.
Mix it Into Applesauce
Unsweetened applesauce may be better than the sweetened variety, but with just 3 grams of fiber and less than a half a gram of protein per cup, it’s not always filling. If you’re a fan of this fruity snack, make it one that’s better for your appetite and waistline by mixing in some taste-free chia seeds.
Top off a Fruit Salad
Make your morning fruit salad more satisfying by topping your bowl of fresh fruit with some filling chia seeds. Thanks to its healthy fats and fiber content, this breakfast addition will help keep your energy levels soaring well into the afternoon. “[Chia seeds] won’t cause spikes and drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, preventing cravings and overeating later,” Carolyn Brown, MS, RD explains.
Add It to Dressing
About a year ago, health food company, Hilary’s came out with a delicious ranch chia dressing that was teeming with omega-3s. If you can’t find the bottle in your local grocery store, simply whip up a dressing featuring chia seeds. Add the seeds to your go-to dressing recipe or head on over to AlvaOSullivan.com to get your hands on her flavor-packed Lemon Chia Seed Dressing recipe. Made with just six clean and easy-to-find ingredients, it’s definitely one of our favorites.
Add Them to Avocado Toast
Already a big fan of avocado toast? Great! Elevate your creations to the next level by sprinkling on some crunchy chia. If nothing else, the pretty specks of seeds atop the green mountain of avocado will earn you some extra likes on your Instagram #FoodPorn post. Big fan of the creamy green fruit? Don’t miss these mouthwatering avocado recipes for weight loss.
Whip Up a Low-Sugar “Jam”
Skip the store-bought jam that’s full of excess calories and sugar and make a healthier version at home by mixing chia seeds with pureed berries. It’s the perfect topping for whole-grain crackers and PB&J sammies. It even tastes great mixed into plain Greek yogurt.
Make Them Into Pudding
While many people think of chia as a topping, it can hold its own as a main dish, too. And not to mention, chia pudding is one of the tastiest ways to work this amazing superfood into your daily diet. The best part? It’s so easy to make. Nearly all of these chia pudding recipes require less than 10 minutes of prep time.
Add Them to Greek Yogurt
There are loads of ways to dress up plain ol’ Greek yogurt: fruit, nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, cinnamon, and yes, chia seeds! To create a healthy concoction that’s all your own, spoon in some chia along with your other favorite fixings.
Toss Them into a Smoothie
Former Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis reportedly tosses chia seeds into his shake every morning. To get your nutrition on à la Lewis, whip up one of these weight loss smoothies and blend in some chia. Since they will absorb a bit of the liquid from the other ingredients (like water, milk etc.), they can help your smoothie keep you fuller, longer.
Try Chia-Topped Cauliflower Medallions
There’s a lot to love about tater tots—except the grease and starchy carbs. So, we suggest you swap potatoes for finely chopped cauliflower and combine with things like cheese and onions, as well as chia seeds and cornmeal for a bit of crunch. Loving this yummy sounding idea? Lisa of Healthy Nibbles & Bits, breaks down exactly how to make this superfood-packed treat here.
Add Them to Homemade Energy Bites
Sometimes you just want a bite of something delicious but portion control can be a struggle—even for people with admirable willpower. Energy bites to the rescue! These homemade creations are essentially just tiny snack bars (or balls) packed with seeds, raw oats, nut butter, chocolate, fruit and other delectable ingredients. No matter what energy ball recipe you decide to make (we’re partial to these energy bites), you can always add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds. They lend a satisfying crunch without adding any flavor, so they work with a variety of recipes.
Mix Them Into Oatmeal
There are a million ways to fix a bowl of oatmeal, but one of our favorite cereal topping combos is chia seeds mixed with pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and cinnamon. We also love mixing fresh fruit like blueberries with chia, vanilla extract, honey, and a pinch of sea salt. Yum!
Add Them to Pancakes
Traditional pancakes are perfect for no-alarm-clock, ready-to-relax kinda days. But they’re basically void of any health-bolstering nutrients. The good news? With a few key ingredients, they can be easily healthified. To elevate your batter to the next level, fold in chia seeds and fresh fiber-rich fruit like blueberries or sliced apples and strawberries. To keep your blood sugar levels even-keeled, be sure to stick with Grade A Medium Amber pure maple syrup (instead of the junky kind filled with high fructose corn syrup) and drizzle it on ever so lightly. Or better yet, melt a bit of nut butter and drizzle that on top of your stack instead.
Make Chia Peanut Butter
Whether you buy nut butter at the grocery story or make it from scratch at home, the gooey spread serves as the perfect place for a few spoonfuls of chia seeds. It’s the perfect way to sneak some omega-3s into your mini me’s sandwich or simply add some more of the nutrient to your diet if you’re not a big fan of fatty fish or other sources of the nutrient.
Make Healthier Meat
Instead of coating your meat and fish in starchy white flours, use 1 cup of almond meal mixed with 1 tablespoon chia seeds and a savory combination of herbs and spices. To get the most health-boosting benefits from your fat–burning crust, be sure to bake (not fry!) your proteins.
Use Them Instead of Croutons
While croutons may add some crunch to your lunchtime salad, they also serve up unhealthy sources of fat. Chia seeds make a far better topping as they deliver the crunch you crave without excess calories, saturated fat, and chemicals. Plus, their healthy fats can actually help your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins from your veggies, so it’s a win-win. Spoon some on top of your greens right before you dig in!
Turn Them Into Popsicles
Sure, they’re addictively delicious, but ice cream pops tend to be filled with refined sugars and unhealthy fats. With an easy swap of ingredients, though, you can transform this childhood favorite into a wholesome dessert. Combine your favorite berries with coconut milk and chia seeds and simply blend and freeze the mixture in ice pop trays. They’re super easy and filled with nutrients your body can actually call on to stay healthy and fit!
Add Some to Soup
Next time you heat up a pureed veggie broth—like sweet potato or butternut squash—garnish your bowl with some chia seeds and feta cheese. The crunchy and salty combo makes even the most basic of boxed soups seem like a fancy restaurant dish, all while making the meal a bit more satiating and satisfying.
Create Protein-Packed Desserts
When your sweet tooth starts screaming, desserts can be very hard to stay away from. But instead of reaching for those icky store-bought treats, bake up a healthy dessert and add one or two tablespoons of chia seeds. They can be added to everything from muffins to cookies and contribute a bit of nutrition and staying power to a category of food that’s typically lacking in beneficial nutrients.
Toss with Pasta
Regular pasta is a simple carbohydrate which will digest quickly and leave you feeling hungry. However, if you toss some chia seeds and sautéed veggies into your bowl, you’ll be adding some protein and healthy fats to mix, which can slow digestion and help you feel full for longer.
Make Fancy Popcorn
Looking for a tangy and spicy way to take your popcorn to the next level? Pop 1/2 cup of popcorn and top with 1/4 cup of melted, grass-fed butter spiked with 2 teaspoons of hot sauce. Once well mixed, combine zest from one lime, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a separate bowl. Combine and then pour the mixture over the popcorn and mix thoroughly before digging in.